What do brands compete on? Many might say value, price, quality, selection, and customer service, for starters. At least, those were the answers five years ago. 

Now, we’re seeing customer experience grow higher and higher on that list.

Just four years ago, only 36% of brands expected that they would compete on customer experience. Now, a massive 89% expect that they will compete primarily on customer experience in 2016–displacing even value and price. 

Customer experience, as a practice and mindset, has changed too. 

It now takes so much more than just friendly and knowledgeable salespeople to deliver an excellent customer experience. It takes data. A lot of itacquired across channels and housed, leveraged, and analyzed through a single platform which customized communications are delivered by. 

But if we look at the eMarketer data below, it becomes clear that very few marketers are doing this, or even think they have the ability to do it. Here’s some eye-opening responses from marketers when asked about their data collection, housing, and analytics capabilities.


Even some basic capabilities are sorely lacking. Only 18% of respondents say they have “strong capability” when it comes to collecting information about website visitors. 53% rate their capabilities in this area as average, and 30% say their abilities are weak or nonexistent in this area.

It should be no surprise that things get worse from here. Only 11% say they have strong capabilities at analyzing user data from different systems; 45% say their capabilities are weak and 23% say they can’t do it at all.

The biggest hurdle? Working across devices and channels. Only 3% say they’re good at using cross-channel or cross-device data for real-time website personalization; 16% say they do about average at this, and 32% and 49%, respectively, say their capabilities are weak or nonexistent. The numbers are even worse for real-time personalization on mobile devices.

In other words, marketers are still thinking, and strategizing, channel-by-channel.

Unfortunately, customers don’t live, or buy, channel-by-channel. They use what works best for them in the moment, and they think of their activities across devices and channels as one coherent whole. 

To truly compete on customer experience, marketers are going to have to do the same…and the answer lies in the foundational technology a brand invests in. 

Kristine Lowery, Content Marketing Manager at Sailthru